Monday, March 30, 2009

The kitchen saga continues...

The good news of the day (at least as far as the kitchen goes...) is that the contractor is confident that he will be done by Wednesday. "This Wednesday", I asked? "Yes, this Wednesday", he answered.

"As in April 1st?"

"Yes, this Wednesday, April 1st."

"As in April Fools Day? You're kidding me - right?"

"Nope. No kidding. I'll be outta here Wednesday"

So - we are asking everyone to cross your fingers, hold your breath, rub the Buddha belly, kiss the Blarney Stone, say a prayer, or whatever you can think of to unleash all of he good karma available in the universe. Because, there is nothing I want more than to walk to the kitchen and get a glass of water. And if that is available with ice - then that's just icing on the cake!

Since the last post - 90% of the tiled back splash is complete. And a good portion of the cabinet trim is now installed. There's still a good number of things to complete - but it's doable. Te plumber and electrician should be here tomorrow to do the "final" and the contractor says he'll be able to finish up the inside items tomorrow. That would leave about a half days work outside on April Fool's day!

At any rate - we've got some pics of the trim! It really adds to the cabinets. And there is a picture of the "focal point" above the stove. It's not quite complete yet (only partially grouted) but you'll get the idea. It's going to look really good when it's all done!

Here's the crown moulding. It really makes the kitchen seem tall!

Here's the "light rail" at the bottom...

Here's the "focal point" that will be above the stove...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Baby Kylie Update!

Our new niece is doing fabulously! Especially for only being 3 days old!!! Momma should get to go home today. Apparently, recovery from a c-section isn't the "funnest thing ever"! Who would've thought?

And baby Kylie may get to go home today too! It would be really cool if they all got to check out of the hospital. She's been having trouble regulating her blood sugar. Shouldn't be anything to worry about. Just working on getting all of the systems jump started!

And now for the fun part. Momma and Auntie have been sending me pictures! So here are a couple of them for your viewing pleasure! These were all taken "moments" after Kylie was born...

Why am I naked? Can't you people see that I'm freezing?!?!?!?

Ahhh - that's better. All warm and comfy...

More progress...

There is more to report on the kitchen! The hood has finally been hung - and now that the counter top has been installed, the final cabinet has been set. Also - the wall tile has started! Here's the scoop...

The hood and vent went up first. It was quite an interesting process. First the hood - it's really just a wooden shroud that covers the vent. It has to go up first because the vent attaches to the shroud. So, after some careful measurements, the hood was hung. That's when things started to get interesting. The vent is a huge stainless steel insert that completely fills the bottom of the hood. And it has to connect with the pipe coming out the top. You can imagine trying to hold this vent (it's not exactly lite) and awkwardly fit it under the hood and then try to attach the mounting screws. Just that part was bad enough. But you had to do all of that while trying to get the exhaust pipe to fit in! And did I mention that you can't reach the pipe from the top? And from the bottom, you can see it, but you can't adjust it! It was quite an adventure. An important lesson learned - sometimes it's worth paying somebody to do the job - just for the entertainment value!

Pre hood and vent

Post hood and vent. Isn't it nice?

The last cabinet was set as well. The picture isn't very good - they hadn't reattached the door yet - but that's all done now. It's really starting to look like a kitchen again! This last cabinet had me a little nervous. Since it sits on the counter top, the back of the cabinet had to be notched to fit the profile of the counter top back splash. It's one of those "you have to get this right the first time" scenarios. But our contractor did an excellent job - it looks like the cabinet came that way from the factory! An important lesson learned - sometimes it's worth paying somebody to do the job - just because they know what they are doing!

The last cabinet (sans door)

Lastly, the tile was started yesterday. I've learned that this is called a "subway" pattern. I have to say - I'm impressed with the way it's turning out. All of the designers who volunteered their time (because we "might" buy something) they've done a wonderful job helping us. The hard part of the tiling is yet to come (the harlequin pattern around the hood) - but I've included some pics of what we have so far. An important lesson learned - sometimes it's better to trust the trained professionals!

The "subway" tile pattern matches the floor and counter top nicely!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A baby is born!

The day has arrived. It's been 9 long months (not nearly as long for us as it has been for Tracey

But today was the day. The phone call came. "You are the proud Aunt and Uncle of a new baby girl!"

Of course, we already knew it was a girl. Her name is Kylie! And she is a petite 5 pounds 12 ounces born this morning. She woke her mom up around 2:00 this morning letting her know she was ready to come out and play. And the best news of all - mom, baby Kylie, and everyone else is healthy and doing just fine!

We will be making the trip to Evansville to see her the weekend after Easter. I'm sure we'll take about a million pictures of her. And I'm sure we'll pick some of the best and post them here. But until then - I have a cellphone picture that will have to do!

So here it is. The official unveiling! World - meet baby Kylie. Baby Kylie - here's the world!

Hi! My name is Kylie Lackey and
I'm only a few hours old!
March 24th 2009

The counter is in!

The countertop has been installed! And it sure does look nice!

But let me start by saying how cool it was to watch it. It came in three fairly big sections with mostly finished edges (but some of the edges still unfinished). The sink had already been "molded" into place, but there were no holes for the faucet - and no slot for the range to slide in to! I was a little worried - but the guys doing the installation told me not to worry (it was something like - don't worry little boy, we are trained professionals...)

And then it was my turn to play a little back on them. They walked into the garage where the old "dog leg" part of the countertop is still propped up against the wall. They said "wow - that's not the same shape" which caused me to quickly answer "What? Are you sure??? What are we going to do??? Just kidding!!! We changed the layout" In other words - I said "don't worry little boy - I'm a trained professional too"!!!!!

The installation was very methodical and precise. The holes for the sink were drilled on the spot. The slot for the range was cut out in the driveway. The seams were sealed and the front edge was routed. It was all very cool to watch. There is apparently nothing you can't do with this stuff. Routers, drills, belt sanders, super duper epoxy, vacuum pumps, it was all cool. And absolutely amazing that the seams literally disappear and it becomes one huge countertop. But rather than type it all out here (it would be a short novel) ask us about it the next time you see us!

And as promised - we have more pictures!

The first piece of countertop goes in.

The seam between the first piece and second piece.
Notice that the routing isn't complete yet on the edge!

Here is the glue holding it together.
Those are vacuum clamps holding the two pieces level and
squeezing them together.

Take the clamps off a do a little sanding. Will
that dull area really buff out? And what about that
front edge? It's still not finished!

Look ma! No seam! And the edge is completely finished!

Here's a close up of the seam. Can you find it?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good News!

We haven't posted much about the kitchen over the last few days. That's mostly because not much has happened over the last few days. It's all been piddly stuff - the floor tile was grouted, the few pieces of siding covering the old window were hung, and that's about it. Mostly, it's just been waiting on the countertop. And if you remember, they told us 10 working days - which would be this coming Friday - before it's ready...

But we received an exciting phone call this morning. The countertop is ready! And they will be at the house between 7:30 and 8:00 tomorrow morning to do the installation!!! Hopefully, this will get us over the last "hump" and all of the final things will come together quickly. It will mostly be a bunch of small things - nothing that would take long at all individually, but all put together, it might take a few days. We are REALLY hoping to be able to start moving stuff back in to the kitchen this weekend!

We'll keep you posted - and post some pics of the coutertop when it's installed!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The water fountain

Well - it was bound to happen! The first "unplanned" event that stops work on the kitchen.

And just to be clear - it was certainly no fault of the contractor. Here's the story...

Yesterday was "grout" day. Certainly not a monumental event! But it does require water. And they had been using the spigot at the front of the house.

Now, this spigot is 21 years old. It was going to fail sooner or later (emphasis on "sooner")! And yesterday was the day. The rubber gasket that seals the valve shut crumbled apart and flew out of the faucet. That means that you can't shut the faucet off anymore. A real bummer.

And here is another neat tidbit about this house - the spigot at the front of the house comes BEFORE the shutoff. That means when I shut off the water to the house, it still ran.

So - it's out to the front yard to the water meter. Boy, there sure is a lot of space to maneuver around in there! And that shutoff spins SO easily. NOT!

So I shut the water off, ran to Lowe's, bought a new spigot, crawled under the house, cut the old one out, and installed the new one. It only required 4 or 5 trips under the house - but it was certainly not the way I wanted to spend the evening - especially with the WONDERFUL weather we're having. Sunny and 70's!!! At least it was 70 under the house too - but not nearly as sunny...

But it's all done now! Hopefully it'll be good for another 20 years!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ready... Set... The Cabinets!

All of the cabinets are officially set! The wall cabinets went up first - and not without some difficulty. Apparently, our ceiling sags an inch right in the middle of the wall. It normally wouldn't be a big deal - except that we have crown molding at the top of the cabinets that goes all the way to the ceiling. That meant that without some "creative engineering", there would be large gaps at both ends of the crown.

Fortunately, our contractor has hung one or two cabinets in his lifetime. I kept mumbling a bunch of things: "...hummina mumbly 33 and five eighths. But that leaves a hummina mumbly mumbly something-or-other 42 and a half..." I guess in the end he got it all figured out because the cabinets are hung level, and there shouldn't be any gab bigger than an eighth of an inch (and that's just due to the texture of the ceiling!)

It took all day long. But once they started going, it went pretty fast. Now they are all set with the exception of the range hood (it'll be a couple of days for that) and the end cabinet that comes down to the countertop (we have to wait for the countertop to come in first!)

So that leaves plenty of trim and finish work. All of the crown still needs to be hung. The new heater vent needs to be connected. The floor needs to be grouted. The extended wall still needs some drywall work. Not to mention the foyer (we are putting tile down there too) and the mantle over the fireplace (we ordered extra crown and trim pieces so it would match the wood in the kitchen). Once the countertop is in - it'll be time for the tile backsplash.

All in all - it's going well! Here are some pictures of the cabinets...

The "hole" for the fridge and microwave

The "hole" for the stove and hood

The glass doors over the sink and the "missing" cabinet

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Down with the tile...

The tile is down!

The installation was interesting. Some of you may know that tile requires a special "backing" to keep it in place. It is usually some variant of a concrete board that comes in *heavy* 3 foot by 5 foot sheets.

But when we were looking at the tile store, Marni (our tile designer) told us about "Ditra Mat". It's an "engineered substrate" (I love whipping out the big words first thing in the morning!) that bonds to the subfloor while providing a stable surface for the tile. All of that sounds cool - but the coolest part is...'s UT orange! For a short while, the kitchen floor was "all Vol"! And I've got the pics to prove it!!!

Danny and Dennis put down the Ditra

The "all Vol" kitchen floor!

After the Ditra Mat came the tile. It was a fairly major undertaking. Little did I know! The people we bought the tile from said it was "really good". Apparently so!

First - it is beautiful Italian porcelain in big 20 inch squares. Sounds great doesn't it!

Until you put it on a wet saw. Turns out, it was hard enough that it all had to be cut with a hand saw. That certainly added a little extra time to the installation.

But its all down now - and it looks great!

Good bye orange floor - you'll always be
close to our heart (or our feet)

The finished tile - waiting on the grout.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The countertop...

I just got a call from the countertop people this morning. They are going to be at the house to measure everything out Friday morning.

Then I asked the dreaded question - "once you take the measurements, how long will it take to get the countertop".

Now, keep in mind that this is a complete custom top that will be all one piece with no seams in the top, the sink, the backsplash, nowhere - all one piece. And I realize that you can't just whip it out in a day - and that we are not the only customer they have right now.

So - the answer to the question is 2 weeks. 2 weeks where the plumber can't finish. 2 weeks where the electrician can't finish. 2 weeks where Dennis can't tile the backsplash.

So, I've already been making plans. I've got some scrap sheets of plywood in the garage along with the old sink. I think I'm going to temporarily hook up the old sink and have some plywood countertops for a couple of weeks. At least the kitchen will be usable that way!

And one last note - I know I've talked to some of you, but most of you aren't aware that I'm also having some work done outside by the camper. The electrician is going to run a 30 amp service so we can run the AC (just in case we need the extra sleeping room for visitors!) and the plumber is going to put in a sewer cleanout. I made a deal with the plumber when he was here that I would dig the hole and he could just drop by and put in the cleanout (which would only take him about 15 minutes if the hole was dug) the next time he was in the area. So the weather was nice yesterday and I got out the shovel. About 2 feet down, I found the pipe and started clearing it out. To my surprise, I found a cleanout! Why it was 2 feet below ground I guess I'll never know. Just like I'll never know why there was a spark plug wire, one glove, a t-shirt, and a couple of other things I couldn't identify - all discovered while digging the small 2 foot by 2 foot hole. But now I don't have to pay the plumber to cut in the cleanout - even I can put in a 4 inch threaded coupler and raise it up to ground level!

I'll keep you posted on the progress...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The painting is finished (almost)

Today was a semi-major milestone on the kitchen remodel. The paint is back on the walls! At least on the walls in the kitchen. There are parts of the wall facing the living room that still need some "work" before they are ready to be painted. It'll be the end of the week or the first of next week before the seams get "built up" enough that they appear flat and smooth (and ready to be painted).

This side still needs some work!

But the good news is that the kitchen side is done. All of the walls (which wasn't too bad since most of them are going to be covered with cabinets or tile) and the ceiling.

The wall that will be behind the fridge

The doors to the deck!

That paves the way for another big day tomorrow. The floor tile is going down! That is pretty exciting. Every day the kitchen looks less and less like a construction project. The floor tile will be another big step!

Unless there is some major malfunction tomorrow - then the base cabinets will go in Thursday, and the wall cabinets will go in Friday while the countertop people take their measurements.

Hopefully, the countertop will be ready Monday or Tuesday which will leave the wall tile (which should only take a day or two). After that, it's just piddly trim work like installing the outlets and putting down a couple pieces of baseboard. So by the end of next week, we should be "moving" back in to the kitchen!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Re-constructing the destruction

It's official! The demolition is complete and we have moved in to the "reconstruction" phase! The rough-in wiring and plumbing are done - and all of the sheetrock is hung with two coats of "mud" on. The grand plan is to have the last coat of mud on this afternoon, sand tomorrow morning and paint tomorrow afternoon! It's possible that they will start on the flooring tomorrow afternoon as well. The cabinets should start going in Thursday and they can measure for the counter tops on Friday. We'll see how closely reality follows the schedule...

And I had some minor construction of my own to do this past weekend. After extending the wall for the kitchen, we decided that the opening between the new wall and the pony wall (behind the TV) was a little too narrow. Not to mention the fact that the pony wall didn't align with the new wall (a product of where the old kitchen tile ended...). So - I decided to move and shorten the pony wall. It wasn't too bad - just remove the drywall from one side - undo the screws holding it in (why did I use so many of those 4 inch screws?), cut off 18 inches, slide it back and screw it down. I had to make a trip under the house to move the electrical wire, and I'll need to make one more trip to finish running the new speaker wire.

But the new drywall is up on the pony wall, and it also has its second coat of mud. We are on the downhill side now! As long as there are no snags...

And when conversation turns to remodeling projects, I'm sure many of you have heard me say, "you wouldn't believe the things I've found" and I'll break into some story (my favorite is the floor joist that was cut and left hanging so that the toilet would fit...). Well - now I have another one to add to the rapidly growing list. Once upon a time, before the microwave was installed (by the previous owners) over the stove, there was a typical range hood. You've seen them - they have nice lights to light up the stove, and a nice fan to get rid of the smoke. Well, except for this one. The vent pipe was nicely ran up the wall where it magically stopped! I can see it now - someone frying up some bacon and the smoke gets started - they turn on the fan - and smoke starts rising up in the second story bathroom! Genius!

Of course, we never had that problem since the range hood had been replaced by an "over-the-stove" microwave. But that has its own issues - they don't get vented outside either. There is a fan in the bottom, and it blows it through a charcoal filter then out the top front (right in your face).

Needless to say - the venting issue was one of our top priorities (along with being able to open the fridge doors all the way - a whole different story...). So now we have a dual blower vent that can move 800 cubic feet of air per minute through a beautiful 8 inch pipe that goes all the way outside. No more smoke in this house!

Look at that pretty exhaust pipe!

New kitchen - old fridge.

The newly shortened "pony wall" with the
newly extended kitchen wall

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The plumber arrives!

After much anticipation and delay - the plumber has finally arrived. Not only has he arrived - but he has completed all of the rough-in work! So - I guess the title of this post should really be "the plumber has left the building!"

And the work actually looks really good. All of the new water pipes are using the "PEX" pipe instead of copper. At first I was skeptical of this, but after some investigation, I was convinced. Apparently, they have been using it in the northeast for about 15 years or so. It's flexible. It's color coded (blue for cold and red for hot). It mates to the existing copper without using a torch or solder (lead isn't good in your drinking water...). And it can expand to over quadruple it's original size so frozen water won't bust the pipe. How cool is that? And it has a 25 year warranty on the pipe AND the fittings. Can't complain about that. So in the end, I was convinced that it is at least as good (if not better than) copper.

Red and blue PEX pipes for the new sink
They are almost finished - just need the shut-offs installed!

New supply line for the fridge. No more running
the pipe behind the cabinets back to the sink!

The fittings tying the PEX back to the original copper.

There was a significant amount of PVC work to do as well. The sink drain had to be moved. The drain vent had to be moved. And the original drain vent was tied into the upstairs bathroom drains which meant that it had to be moved too. There's nothing like the smell of PVC cement to make you glad you aren't a plumber!

And with the plumbing complete - the drywall is now ready to go up! WOO HOO! We are now to the point where things are starting to go back together!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Arrrrg - those darn plumbers!

So - we promised to keep everyone updated on the kitchen progress. And some of you may be wonder "what in the world is going on? I thought they were going to keep us updated? And only one post? From 4 days ago? What's up???"

Well - here's what's up..


The plumber has experienced some "delays" in his schedule. And currently, nothing else can be done until he decides to move some of my pipes around. I guess the silver lining is - my contractor is just as mad as we are - maybe even more. After all - he isn't getting paid while all of this "waiting" is going on.

So - the plumber is now scheduled to come out tomorrow afternoon and won't leave until the job is finished. We aren't holding our breath (we've heard this a time or two over the last four days), but he claims that this time is different and that he will stay until the job is finished.

Now I'm sure that many of you are saying that we should put a little pressure on the GC to find another plumber. But all in all - it's not really the plumbers fault. He was supposed to be at my house bright and early yesterday morning. Unfortunately (for us), we have had unusually cold weather (15 degrees is WAY TO COLD for March) in Knoxville and he had some customers with frozen pipes that busted. And I have to say that a pipe spraying water probably needs to be fixed before my pipes get moved. My GC even called his wife last night at 8:00 and he wasn't home yet.

And guess what happened last night? It was warmer! But only by a degree - and 16 degrees is still WAY TO COLD for March! This time - the pipe busted in one of the Blount County buildings. Again, the pipe that is spraying water probably needs to be fixed before my pipes get moved.

So - keep your fingers crossed! He'll hopefully be out tomorrow afternoon. And it's going to be a little warmer tonight - but the low is still going 20 degrees! At least after tonight he won't have the frozen pipe excuse - it's supposed to be up to 70 by this weekend!